Some 60,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students in New York will have one less math test to worry about this year, thanks to a federal waiver. The move gets rid of some “double testing,” and shouldn’t be seen as a capitulation to opponents of the new Common Core learning standards.
Students, as they have been for decades, must be tested to see how well they are learning. The waiver affects students who take Regents math courses, and the accompanying Regents math test. Those students also had to take the state math test that is required by federal law. Now, the state will be able to use the Regents exam to fulfill the federal testing requirement.
The change, while small, makes sense and comes in response to complaints that kids are being over-tested.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. backed the waiver, but is not backing wholesale changes in state testing: “… we have repeatedly said that the amount of testing should be the minimum necessary to inform effective decision-making. Our successful waiver request is an example of New York’s commitment to smarter, leaner testing.”
State officials are working to deliver a higher-quality education that allows students to compete on a global scale. Things have changed in classrooms, even in the past few years, as more information about best practices develops.
That information has led to initiatives such as the Common Core standards. It is no longer acceptable to allow students to graduate without the reading, writing, math and science skills necessary to take them to the next level in college, or in the vocational world.
Parents have repeatedly protested that they did not have to take the number of tests that their children are facing, nor did they have to tackle such dense material. Again, things have changed.
Employers are looking for specific skills and requiring depth of knowledge in core subjects and beyond. If they don’t find it, then they will look elsewhere.
And in this global economy, companies have the option of moving their facilities out of state, or even out of the country in search of the right workers. Or, using technology, they can call on virtual workers from around the globe.
Common Core is designed to closed the education gap, but testing has to be part of the process of determining whether it is working as designed.
The federal waiver for those math students who qualify is a good thing. It eliminates redundancy. But it doesn’t change the fact that testing will still be required to inform effective decision-making.